Last update: July 15, 2017
Not risky for breastfeeding or infant.
There is a high prevalence of nutritional anemia in breastfeeding mothers (Shashiraj 2006), which rises to 47% in mothers of low socioeconomic status (Bodnar 2001).
During gestation and breastfeeding there is iron transfer from mother to child that tends to avoid both iron-mediated infection and oxidative stress as well as the potential risk of maternal and infant iron deficiency (Miller 2016). Maternal anemia must be prevented and treated, but neither the disease nor its treatment contraindicate breastfeeding.
Loss of blood during labor is an important factor in postpartum anemia (Chan 2001). Pregnancy during breastfeeding increases the risk of anemia (Shaaban 2015). In contrast, prolonged breastfeeding is a protective factor for anemia in breastfeeding mothers (Lakew 2015).
Iron deficiency anemia increases the risk of postpartum depression (Sheikh 2015) and is a risk factor for early cessation of breastfeeding (Rioux 2006), possibly because of (actual or not) insufficient milk (Henly 1995).
According to some authors, there is a correlation between maternal hemoglobin and that of infants who are exclusively breastfed in the first 6 months of life (Marques 2016, Teixeira 2010). Therefore, it is necessary to prevent preconception anemia during pregnancy and breastfeeding (Teixeira 2010).
When maternal anemia is associated with prolonged breastfeeding there is a greater risk of anemia in the infant in developing countries (Meinzen 2006).
But other studies have shown that iron and lactoferrin levels in milk are independent of maternal plasma iron and hemoglobin levels (Shashiraj 2006, Murray 1978) and that exclusively breastfed infants have normal plasma iron levels irrespective of the mother’s iron status (Murray 1978).
In addition, administering iron to breastfeeding mothers has no effect on serum levels of iron and ferritin in mothers and infants (Breymann 2007, Baykan 2006) and may have a negative effect on plasma copper and milk levels (Mello 2013).
Maternal pernicious anemia due to lack of absorption of vitamin B12 or deficient diets such as vegans (see specific information) can lead to anemia and serious physical and / or neurological symptoms in the infant (Lücke 2007, Weiss 2004, Sklar 1986).
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM´s pediatricians and pharmacists, and are based on updated scientific publications.
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